I have been to and heard of many churches that have rules. Lots of rules: girls must wear skirts to cover their ankles, men must not associate with single women, no one can pierce their ears (or any other body part, for that matter), children can be seen, but must not be heard… The lists can go on and on and on. What I’d like to know is, where in the Bible is all of that?
An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.
2 Timothy 2:5 (ESV)
What does that have to do with anything, you ask? Let me tell you what I think this means.
A lot of Christians think that we still need to follow the letter of the Old Testament law. This just isn’t so. Jesus came to fulfil the law. He replaced it with a new one – love. If you think about it, all of the important things in the Old Testament can be summed up in that one simple word. God knew full well that we, as fallen man, could never keep the law. If we could, redemption wouldn’t have been necessary.
So what are our rules if not the law? Jesus gave us some examples:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
John 14:6 (NKJV)
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.
All through the Gospels, Jesus was giving examples of how He wants us to live. These are the new rules and, as I stated before, they are all summed up with that one word. Love.
Being good isn’t good enough. I can throw a football. I can catch a football. But that doesn’t mean that I will ever be the quarterback for the team that wins the Grey Cup. I know a lot of the rules of the game, but not all the rules of the game. I am not qualified to win (or even play) the game.
Being able to do some of the things Jesus commanded is not enough. Knowing the things Jesus commanded us to do is not enough. We have to know the rules and play the game. It’s the only way to win.